Sabah and Thailand keen to explore business partnerships

(File pic) Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said among the potential industries are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, automotive, and wood processing. (NSTP/KHAIRULL AZRY BIDIN)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is interested to explore potential business partnerships with Thai investors in various sectors.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said among the potential industries are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, automotive, and wood processing.

“At present, the tourism sector in Sabah is growing rapidly but we are lacking in hotel rooms. This would require hotel construction projects to be implemented.

“A growing number of tourists would likely unveil a lot of business opportunities for tourism-related industries such as food services, recreation businesses, transportation and ticketing and reservation services,” Mohd Shafie said in his keynote speech at a trade forum and business matching event, delivered by state assistant finance minister Kenny Chua.

Present at the forum titled “Bridging Trade and Investment: Relations Between Thailand and East Malaysia” were Thailand ambassador to Malaysia Narong Sasitorn and a delegation of Thai investors.

Speaking further on Sabah’s economy, Mohd Shafie said it has been predominantly export-oriented and dominated significantly by primary commodities such as agriculture – mainly palm oil, forestry and petroleum.

He said the state government planned to diversify industries to open up job opportunities for the locals, adding they expected the automotive sector to be a new source of revenue to further enhance the state’s overall economic development.

Mohd Shafie, who is also state Finance minister, noted the wood processing industry has been promoted in order to capitalise Sabah’s distinctive comparative advantage with respect to an abundance of natural resource endowments.

“Manufacturing has been heralded as the new growth sector for Sabah and the creation of high value-added and knowledge-intensive industries is the current emphasis of the state government.

“Moreover, the Sabah Agriculture Blueprint will soon be tabled at the State Cabinet, focusing on more downstream rather than merely raw material production,” he said.

Ealier, Sasitorn said Sabah is Thailand’s gateway to the BIMP-EAGA market, adding that they hope to be more visible and involved in the business activities in the state.

He said products that Thailand can provide for the Sabah market include automative parts, food, high value agriculture products and construction materials.

“From Sabah, we would like to import aquaculture products, furnitures, manufacturing and biochemical products.

“Thailand can support Sabah’s vision to diversify agriculture and in tourism, we have direct flights between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu. We have yet to look into some kind of partnership in medical and niche tourism packages,” he said.

Noting Malaysia is Thailand’s number one trading partner in Asean with a total two-way trade value of US$25 billion, Sasitorn stressed that Thailand would be Sabah’s third largest trading partner that has yet to achieve full potential.

“Doing business with Thailand means you can reach markets beyond Thailand. We have immediate access to Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the southern province of China.

Source : NST

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